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The Evening Standard (London, England), August 10, 2006 | Go to article overview

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HSBC glitch puts online bankers at risk MILLIONS of customers of one of the UK's biggest banks have had their online accounts exposed to potential fraud because of a security flaw.

The accounts of more than three million customers who are registered to use HSBC's online banking services have been left vulnerable to attack for the past two years because of the security defect.

Researchers at Cardiff University discovered the loophole and found that the flaw could be exploited to break into any of the 3.1 million accounts.

The defect centres on the way customers access their web-based HSBC account.

Hackers can use "keyloggers" - gadgets or software viruses that record every keystroke made on a particular computer - to work out the data needed to successfully gain access to the accounts.

A hacker would then be able to change the account information and address, transfer money or even arrange to get up to [pounds sterling]2,000 in any currency delivered immediately to any country in the world.

The researchers are planning to publish full details of their discovery in security journals, but decided to go public first.

After being alerted to the problem, a spokesman for the bank said: "We are always seeking to upgrade our online security and we will examine the issue raised here very closely."

But he then played down the defect and said it was not a serious threat or viable way for a criminal to steal money, and that the bank had not seen any of its online customers defrauded in the way described. He added that HSBC suffered less fraud than other banks.

The spokesman said: "It is an extremely sophisticated attack that would require a particular and time-consuming focus on one individual victim. It is therefore not likely to be a profitable way for criminals to behave."

Women warned to mind the pension gap WOMEN must start saving more for their pensions if they are to avoid facing financial hardship in old age, the Government warned today.

The Department for Work and Pensions issued figures showing that although modern women are increasingly independent, one in three still "aspire" to be dependent on a husband or partner. …

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